Last night, Atlantic Live—the special events arm of The Atlantic—put forth its fifth year of State of the Union functions, in Washington and in New York (at the newly reopened ballroom of the Plaza hotel). The evening in D.C. started on the mezzanine of the Library of Congress, with a pre-address reception for politicians and administration types to network and kill time before the big speech. “The whole concept is to have a kind of greenroom for members of Congress,” said John Fox Sullivan, group publisher and chief executive of Atlantic Media.
Aiming for simple elegance, with more focus on political murmurs than extravagant decor, the event fit right in to the library's historic color scheme. Red tablecloths and gold chairs circled the mezzanine, while a jazz trio from Wright Music and tables of comfort food—including sliced chicken, sautéed green beans, and pecan bars—from Susan Gage Catering set the tone.
The main brain behind Atlantic Live’s events—publisher and executive vice president Elizabeth Baker Keffer, who remained in Washington when the magazine moved to New York in December—was absent from the reception. She held court at one of the private viewing dinners last night, at the home of Atlantic chairman David Bradley, which included a discussion among the 25 guests moderated by editor James Bennet. Although Keffer wouldn't release any names, she did offer that the dinner hosted “a fairly serious, ‘inside the Beltway’ crowd.”